Her adoptive father is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, but a judge still said that Hyebin Schreiber isn’t in the United States legally, reports USA Today. Schreiber was adopted by her parents, retired Army Lt. Col. Patrick Schreiber and his wife, Soo Jin, when she was 15.
Patrick met his wife, Soo Jin, when he was stationed in South Korea in 1995. Soo Jin is Hyebin’s biological aunt, as well as her adoptive mother. They brought Hyebin to the United States to live with them when she was 15. But now, a judge has ruled she must leave the country right after college graduation, due to a strange disparity between the laws of the state and federal immigration law regarding a child’s age at the time of their adoption.
Hyebin was brought to the United States in 2012, and the Shcreibers delayed a formal adoption. They were under the impression that they had until Hyebin was 17 to legalize her adoption via the court system. In the meantime, she was enrolled in school and they were living together as a happy family.
Part of the reason the adoption was delayed was because Patrick, who served in the Army for more than 27 years before his retirement, was in Afghanistan for most of 2013 and 2014. He was there serving as an intelligence officer and thus was not present in the United States to undertake the necessary legal proceedings for adoption. Plus, he thought he had time. His lawyer had advised him he could wait until Hyebin was 17, after all.
However, the lawyer was wrong. That law only applies to native-born American citizens. Foreign-born children must be adopted by age 16 in order to retain the rights of citizenship of their adoptive American parents. Essentially, even though Hyebin had a birth certificate issued by the state of Kansas following her adoption there, the court was now saying that birth certificate was actually null and void.
Hyebin is not a U.S. citizen, the judge ruled, and therefore must return to South Korea upon completion of her college education. Hyebin is currently a senior studying biochemistry at the University of Kansas.
When he ruled against the family, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree said that the law is not ambiguous and he interpreted it according to its meaning.
Patrick of course, feels a great deal of guilt about the situation and his wife is unwilling to tear apart the family.
“I’m going to go back to Korea too. I can’t leave her,” Soo-Jin Schreiber said.